At last Wednesday’s Hollywood city commission meeting, over 50 community members who want the streets renamed were faced with dozens of counter protests who demanded the street names remain as they are. These counter protestors waved American flags, Confederate flags, and other flags representing white nationalism, while chanting “Trump” and “white lives matter.” One of the counter protestors was heard saying “I don’t care about Black lives,” while others were heard calling a State Representative Shevrin Jones a “nigger” and “monkey.”
Representative Jones, who represents Hollywood, spoke at the rally in favor of changing the street names. He said “…We are fighting against a time in history that divided our country and today we stand here united as one front. Not only to let the commissioners know that if Louisiana can do it ,if Mississippi can do it, if Tampa can do it, then Hollywood can do the same thing.”
During the public comments section of the commission meeting, community residents and their supporters expressed that they are tired of coming to the commission repeatedly demanding the same thing. Their demand is simple: remove the offensive street names and rename them with the names they were originally given.
Long time community resident, Benjamin Israel, who has been fighting for the streets to be renamed said, “It amazes me how people can get up here and talk about how much it will cost to change the streets. How much did it cost for 620,000 Americans to be slaughtered?… why should they be heroes? They were out to destroy the government of the United States and they were out to promote slavery in perpetuity… At some point we’re going to have to do the right thing…” Community organizer, Tifanny Burks, continued to decry the excuse about the cost of the renaming the streets. She exclaimed, “People keep mentioning the economic impact as if my ancestors were not enslaved beyond their will for more than 200 years,… like slavery did not rob [economics] from my ancestors… we need to be on the right side of history and not talking about how money is going to inconvenience people.”
Those who opposed the renaming also expressed their reasons, many citing history. Moses Rogers, who identified himself as a part of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said “We are about heritage and not hate… if you do erase history, you’re bound to make the same mistakes… [the Confederate soldiers] were fighting for what they believed in, which was liberty.”
The city commission acknowledged the application for renaming the streets that was filed by community resident, Laurie Schecter. When asked why she felt compelled to pay the $2,000 per street name and file the application, she said “it’s the right thing to do.”
Mayor Josh Levy closed out the meeting by stating, ““We don’t value discrimination in this day and age… this body and our city will look to its moral compass and do the right thing,” which will hopefully translate into a swift vote for new street names.
Photos taken by Angie GB